Spend just a few moments scrolling through certain corners of Twitter and you’ll see someone asking why a platform that brought them customers, partners, or investors should be free. Or talk to a woman whose business was covered by Forbes or a young activist who makes the 30 Under 30 list and ask them what opportunities it brought. In today’s age of self-promotion and online noise, Public Relations, or PR, is a critical skill. It can be the difference between a business failing and becoming a household name. For some people, promoting themselves in public is easy, but for most, it needs to be learned. That’s where the Future is Female Mentorship Program comes in. The program, run by C. Moore Media International Public Relations (CMM), is for African female founders of tech companies. “As a Black female founder myself, I understand the challenges Black and African female founders and entrepreneurs have as we are the least supported and the least funded, especially in the male dominated tech space,” said Claudine Moore, Founder of CMM and the Future is Female Mentorship Program. Through a series of online sessions and mentorship, the program teaches the women the fundamentals of PR and communications. To be eligible for the program, the entrepreneur’s business must be less than 2 years old and have not yet raised Series A funding. It is at this critical time that a startup needs PR but can probably not yet hire an agency to represent them.
The program was inspired in 2019 when Moore moderated a groundbreaking session for the Organization of African First Ladies (OAFLAD) at the 74th United Nations General Assembly. During the event, 41 First Ladies renewed their commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment across Africa. Moore contributed her expertise to their commitment, launching The Future is Female Mentorship Program in 2020. In the inaugural year it received 139 applications from 18 different African countries. The program ultimately selected 12 startups from Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya. One of the mentees, Ugandan Shamim Kaliisa, Founder, Chil AI Lab, was invited to be a part of the inaugural Bloomberg New Economy Catalysts class of 2021, launched by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to highlight the world’s brightest innovators at the leading edge of technology, solving problems in emerging economies. Kaliisa learned “how to leverage the power of storytelling and media relations to attract the proper attention from customers, investors, and media” through the program.
This year the competition to get into the program was even fiercer. There was a 30% increase in the number of applications which came from 25 African countries. Ultimately 25 startups were invited to join the 2021 cohort from 12 countries including the first participants from Francophone Africa.
The 2021 cohort includes:
Selma Ndi Ekfvei (Founder of Data Girl Technologies): Data Girl Technologies is an Edu-tech startup empowering girls with digital skills and teaching them to monetize these skills, creating sustainable income for them.
Nadege Bolingo (Founder of Connecticut Institute for Social Entrepreneurship): The Connecticut Institute for Social Entrepreneurship is a startup that supports young leaders to solve the most world’s pressing problems, while creating opportunities for their communities.
Heba Eldessouky (Founder of As Good As New): As Good As New (AGAN) is an online platform for buying and selling pre-loved and outlet fashion items.
Setsabile Mkhabela (Founder of Boast-ID): Boast ID is a content hub, community and e-commerce marketplace for emerging Sustainable and impactful brands in Africa.
Marly Diallo (Founder of BRT Energy): BRT ENERGY leverages technology to support telecom tower operators, mobile network operators, energy companies and organizations with battery recovery and energy storage.
Nancy Passiany (Founder of Veesh Africa): Veesh Africa is an e-commerce platform creating opportunities for small and informal businesses to scale digitally and have access to markets outside of Kenya.
Cathy Chepkemboi (Founder of Tushop): Tushop is a social commerce company that aggregates communities demand for groceries to access wholesale prices and provides convenient delivery to end-customers.
Joanne Osuchukwu (Founder of Hlink): HLink is an innovative, scalable and integrated communication system for healthcare workers and facilities, which digitally provides up-to-date availability information of facilities and resources such as specialty physicians, test kits and ventilators.
Ifedolapo Lawal (Founder of Afrinovate Technology LTD): Afrinovate helps businesses with rural distribution and payment collections from rural customers.
Adaobi Eneh (Founder of RoboRep): Roborep is a unified medical liaison and digital distribution platform for easy communication, networking, and exchange of goods and services in the life science industry.
Ibironke Yekinni (Founder of Testify Limited): Testify Limited is a Quality-As-a-Service startup providing services in training, delivering software testing services and outsourcing experienced software testers to tech firms across Africa.
Wunmi Akinsola (Founder of Fashtracker): Fashtracker is a B2C fashion marketplace connecting trusted African brands to the customers that need them.
Olarenwaju Erogbogbo (Founder of Doing Good Work in Africa): The Doing Good Work in Africa (DOWA) initiative connects brilliant and innovative undergraduate and graduate-level students in the United States to organizations in Africa doing good, scalable and impactful work.
Kosi Ejieji (Founder of MyChassis): MyChassis is an on demand mobile application built to help busy clients access cost-effective vehicle repair and maintenance from vetted mechanics without the hassle of dealing with them.
Tale Alimi (Founder of Owoafara): Owoafara is a startup providing financial services for underserved and under banked micro and small businesses in the informal trade segment to improve their livelihood.
Eva Barasa (Founder of Valley Hub Ltd): Valley hub enables retail businesses with a digital supply chain to manage and build their business brand easily by leveraging technology.
Nisingizwe Joselyn (Founder of Smart Ikigega Project): Smart Ikigega is an Agri-tech startup that enabling farmers to have access finances and harvest insurance.
Fatou Gning (Founder of Amal Crowdfunding): Amal Crowdfunding is a crowdfunding platform for entrepreneur seeking to raise start-up funds for their business.
Thato Schermer (Founder of Zoie Health): Zoie is a digital women’s health & wellness platform that facilitates virtual consults, home consults & delivery of contraceptive and health test kits.
Siyanda Mpambani (Founder of Pink Torque Projects): Pink Torque through its tech solution; Trechi enables users to book auto-technician online for user-location-based repairs.
Joshna Nagar (Founder of APJ Technologies): APJ technologies initiates, build and launch business ideas into innovative, affordable and scalable software solutions for small medium and large enterprises
Gugu Kheswa (Founder of Hello Africa Travel): Hello Africa Travel is an online platform for customers to plan and book African travel.
Noxolo Fani (Founder of Platform Excel): Platform Excel is an Edutech startup using enhanced, personalized approach and gamified online tools for career guidance for grade 8 to grade 12 students in South Africa.
Prisca Magori (Founder of Tenten Explore): Tenten Explore is an online travel marketplace, revolutionizing how travelers find and book trips.
Rebacca Nanono (Founder of Shetechtive): Shetechtive enables girls and young women to have access to quality, inclusive and equitable education by providing study tablets and laptops through installment payment plans.
Author: Meghan McCormick